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The Ultimate Guide To IP Codes

IP Codes (or Ingress Protection Ratings or International Protection Ratings) have been developed by the European Committee for Electro-Technical Standardisation (CENELEC).

The code defines the degree of protection provided for people, equipment within the enclosure and the ingress of water in electrical enclosures when correctly installed.

It does not define any degree of protection against explosions, humidity, corrosive chemicals, fungus or vermin ingress.

However, enclosures that do have a high degree of protection against water ingress are often made with Nitrile seals. These seals will protect the equipment from cutting fluids, coolants and many oils, but they are not specifically tested against these liquids.

Only water ingress is part of the test. The seal does not protect against hydraulic fluids, lubricants, and other liquids. Protection against these can be provided with Viton seals, but this requires special advice.

How To Read IP Codes

The International standard IEC 60529, prepared by the International Electro-Technical Commission (IEC), defines the standard degrees of protection. This consists of the letters IP followed by a first numeral that defines protection against solid objects, and a second numeral that defines protection against water ingress.

Occasionally, there is a third numeral that defines protection against mechanical impacts. This is omitted in most cases, as it does not form part of the IEC 60529.

The aim of the code is to provide a more rigorous definition of protection rather than simple terms such as waterproof or dustproof.

For example, an electrical device or socket with a rating of IP22 has protection against anyone inserting his fingers and will not suffer any damage if it is exposed to water dripping vertically.

If there is only one class of protection, then the second numeral is replaced with an "X". An IP2X enclosure is only protected against finger insertion and not water ingress.

A third numeral is added if the enclosure is protected against mechanical impact. IP224 means that the socket or other enclosure is protected against finger insertion, vertically dripping water and a 500g weight falling from 40cm.

If the enclosure has no mechanical impact protection, only two numerals are used after the "IP". An "X" is not added in this case.

IP Code Reference Guide

First IP Numeral

The first IP numeral defines the protection offered against solid foreign objects.

First Numeral Definition
0 No special protection.
1 Protection against solid objects bigger than 50mm such as an accidental touch by the back of a hand. But there is no protection against a deliberate contact with body parts.
2 Protection against the penetration of object greater than 12.5mm, such as a person's finger.
3 Protection against the penetration of objects greater than 2.5mm. These include tools and wires.
4 Protection against solid objects greater than 1mm, such as most wires, screws and nails.
5 Limited protection against dust ingress. Some dust will penetrate but will not settle.
6 Complete protection against all dust ingress.

Second IP Numeral

The second IP numeral defines the protection against liquids - i.e. tested for harmful water ingress.

Second Numeral Definition
0 No protection.
1 Protection against vertically dripping drops of water, i.e. condensation.
2 Protection against a direct water spray when the enclosure is tilted at an angle of 15 degrees from the vertical.
3 Protection against a direct water spray when the enclosure is tilted at 60 degrees from the vertical.
4 Protection against water splashing from any direction. Limited water ingress is allowed so long as it has not harmful effect.
5 Protection against low-pressure jets of water - nozzle size 6.3mm - from all directions. A limited ingress is permitted as long as there are no harmful effects.
6 Protection against powerful water jets - from a 12.5mm nozzle - from any direction, and against temporary water flooding, such as on ship decks, as long as there are no harmful effects.
7 Protected against immersion in water of between 15cm and 1 metre depth.
8 Protected against continuous immersion of water under pressure.

Third IP Numeral

Finally the third IP numeral defines the protection offered against mechanical impacts.

Third Numeral Definition
0 No protection.
1 Protects against the impact of a 150g weight falling from a height of 15cm.
2 Protects against a 250g weight falling from a height of 15cm.
3 Protects against a 250g weight falling from a height of 20cm.
4 Protects against a 500g weight falling from a height of 40cm.
5 Protects against 1.5kg weight falling from a height of 40cm.
6 Protects against a 5kg weight falling from a height of 40 cm.